Marc Fleetham, York St John University’s new Director of Business Development and Knowledge Exchange, has built his career on bringing educators and businesses together to spark regional and international success.

Now, having moved from the Midlands to Yorkshire, Marc hopes his enthusiasm for new ideas and innovation can provide a catalyst for the next exciting phase in how the University contributes to research, knowledge and economic growth in the region.

York St John has a strong record of working with the business community across both the city of York and North Yorkshire, as well as being a major provider of graduates for several of the key public services in the county and beyond.  Marc’s ambition is to build on what’s going well and play an ever more proactive part in supporting the needs of the surrounding area.

“The role the university plays in the community is one of the main things that attracted me to York St John.  I want to ensure it remains a connected civic institution by increasing our involvement in groups and networks that bring business together to work collaboratively and strategically. I particularly want to understand the changing training needs of the workforce so we can continue to offer professional services that are fit-for-purpose in the 21st century and reflect and respond to local business needs.”

It helps that Marc can draw on many years of working in business himself, having forged his early career across the petrochemical, construction and steel industries, specialising in business development and change management.  After that, his move into Higher Education saw him work at the University of Wolverhampton where he supported business start-ups, ran regional business centers in partnership with local authorities and local enterprise partnerships and successfully secured several major funding bids.  Marc’s business development remit has also seen him work with partners in Africa, Europe and the Middle East.

Throughout this work, partnership and flexibility has been the key “One of the things I like about York St John is that it is a smaller university, but with big ambitions.  That means we can demonstrate the agility to try new things and use partnerships and innovation to make them work on a wider scale.  The development of our new sister Campus in London is a great example.”

Marc also recognises that it is an exciting time to be in York, with a mix of opportunities and challenges. “On the one hand developments such as York Central, the growing role of the Business Improvement District and the renewed efforts to develop York’s brand can be really positive.  York St John is contributing with initiatives like the build of our new Creative Centre on campus and the launch of the first Data Science degree apprenticeship in the country. On the other hand, we know Brexit and wider economic uncertainty create a difficult trading environment for many businesses.”

“My message and my ask would be: ‘let’s talk’. Where universities and the business community work together I’ve seen amazing things achieved. I want us to do that for Yorkshire and combine our expertise to achieve wider benefits.”

Marc Fleetham can be contacted at
m.fleetham@yorksj.ac.uk